Friday, February 17, 2017

Violent Dreams

Descartes imagines a malevolent genius pulling his strings in order to figure out what could possibly remain true under such conditions.

But what does he really imagine when he thinks this scenario?

Does he imagine his same fireplace, his same night-gown, his same hand writing, and yet "in reality" there is someone else, something else, doing something else, somewhere else? Or does he imagine that there isn't anything at all but the illusion?

Contained inside his own limitations to what must count as truth, he can only say that within the illusion he exists because the illusion appears within his own thinking. What occurs outside the illusion is only speculative, on the distant hand, and assumed to be the malevolent genius' working out the illusion, on the nearer hand.

But if the illusion looks indistinguishably from the outer reality he comes to believe is there because of the goodness and perfection and generosity of God, what is the goal of the malevolent genius for having created an illusion that looks like the real thing?

Wittgenstein asks Anscombe, according to Metzinger, that if they say it seems like the sun revolves around the earth when in reality it does not, then what would it seem like if the earth rotated on its axis?

I am not sure if a malevolent genius exists or not. I am pretty sure there are lots of geniuses who exhibit malevolence, and I'm growing more confident that very advanced beings who inhabit multiple realities probably also exhibit malevolence —though for us in our reality there is likely no real way of comprehending that we're even being shown this malevolence.

But if the malevolent genius is duping Descartes into believing in a world that feels ordinary, then I'm going to step out for a moment and imagine that the malevolence and the genius is in getting someone to see a beautiful and amazing and miraculous thing as ordinary and dull and boring. Pain is not difficult. It hurts, but anyone can do it.

But removing wonder and curiosity takes institutions, intelligence, dedication, and complicity. It takes a lot of decisions that amount to doing whatever is necessary to ensure this person never realizes they are extraordinary and living within realities far too beautiful and expansive to capture in words, symbols, tones, cultures.

I don't know how it happened, or when, but I haven't been bored in a very long time. I remember that I had been, but it doesn't happen anymore. And since the Event, I haven't been too overwhelmed with the ordinary or the mundane. If anything, the lines of the paranormal and the supernatural and the subnormal and subnatural all blend together into a persistent glow of the extraordinary.

A student said in class today that maybe Descartes is the evil genius, the deceiver. I am still not entirely sure what he was getting at, but I have been thinking that one way of understanding the idea is to recognize that Descartes deceived himself, was his own deceiving agent. I think this is partly true. We deceive ourselves quite often, until we learn how to stop lying to ourselves.

But what does it look like to live in truth with one's self? Can I imagine such a life when I know there are still things I cannot admit to myself, though maybe this, too, is another part of the lies? Can I know I am being honest with myself if I am secretly dishonest with myself? If I am able to outsmart myself, and thus get away with deceiving myself, will I know at all that I am being deceived through my own means of discerning myself? Or will I absently deceive the deceiver within me, convincing myself I have deceived myself into not knowing that I deceived myself when in reality I have not deceived myself but merely deceived the deceiver into believing the deception occurred? Would I even know such a thing at all, if I am a genius?

In my dream I knew that the streets were empty before I even looked out the window. I saw a woman carrying a bag of things and a small suitcase. She wasn't in a hurry but she wasn't staying. I knew from that moment that I only had a little bit of time to get ready before the invasion force arrived. I prepped the rest of my things and armed the booby traps in my room, and then I looked out the window one more time. The sky was reddening. Sunset.

Right now, in this world, there is someone who is saying goodbye to a home they've known because the enemy comes nearer. They are about to step into the world and run. It is no dream.

Sometimes I hope that I'm not alone in wondering if our dreams aren't something more than the illusion of an unreality, that the classic philosophical concern between distinguishing waking life from dreaming life is something more than just epistemological games.

If the occult world is real, much of what occurs as philosophy is futile.

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